Have you ever heard the story of the wild pig and the sea cow? Once upon a time, there lived a wild pig and a sea cow who were best friends, and their favourite pastime was racing each other. One day, the sea cow injured his legs and was no longer able to run. The wild pig led him to the ocean, where they would be able to race side by side till the end of their days, one on dry land and the another in water. Telling stories like this one was a powerful way to teach important values like cooperation and friendship. Storytelling has been used for thousands of years to communicate and create a connection between people.
Storytelling is one of those natural activities that define us. It is a great way to understand who we are and where we come from. We all feel that natural urge to tell and listen to a story. However, the way we tell stories has changed over time. Our ancestors used storytelling to communicate and preserve history, by using cave walls and rocks as their own social media channels, to draw images which supported their narratives. Our parents grew up telling stories outdoors around a big campfire, with their bright eyes representing the enthusiasm and joy of partaking in this activity. Over time, the medium shifted from oral, to written, to typed/printed stories.
Today, the art of storytelling has been completely revolutionized with the advancement of technology, which has led us to the era of digital storytelling. Telling stories has gone to a completely different level with inventions such as smartphones, TVs, the Internet, and its social media platforms. All these inventions have permitted us to utilize all forms of storytelling over time, from written stories in blog posts, to oral stories in podcasts, and visual stories in photos:
1. From drawings on cave walls to wall posts
This form of storytelling was introduced more than 40,000 years ago. Our ancestors were certainly aware of the fact that an “image is worth a thousand words”, as they carved drawings on cave walls. Another way of telling stories, which was popular in ancient Egypt, was through the use of hieroglyphs. This type of visual storytelling, which included the use of pictographic characters as symbols, dates back about 5,000 years.
As time went by, visual storytelling evolved with new technologies like cameras and film projectors, which permitted people to experience moving pictures for the very first time. Today, we have TVs, streaming services, and smartphones which have ushered us into an exciting era of visual storytelling.
2. From the Iliad to podcasts
Telling stories through word of mouth has been used for centuries and it is still very popular today. Language was probably the first technology which allowed us to share our stories. Works like the Iliad, which is an ancient Greek poem, first came into existence as oral tales before they were eventually written down.
Some decades later, the radio took oral storytelling to another level. With this invention, a storyteller could now speak to an audience hundreds of miles away. These days we have digital services like podcasts and iTunes which have greatly improved the way we tell our stories.
3. From clay tablets to smartphones
Some of the first examples of written literature, such as the Sumerian cuneiform script, were engraved on tablets. As written storytelling became more popular, classic stories were transcribed from their oral forms to their written forms, to preserve them over time. Some years later, stories were written down on lighter materials like papyrus, leather, and then paper.
In 1439, a piece of technology was invented by a German goldsmith that completely changed the way stories were told. This invention was the printing press, which made it possible for written materials to be produced quickly and in huge quantities. Then came the computer and the Internet which allowed users to access an incredible number of stories. Today, we have little gadgets in our pockets which permit us to create, consume, and share stories in no time.
The use of technology has significantly impacted the way we communicate with each other and the way we share our stories. We now live in the era of digital storytelling with different multimedia platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Instagram, which allow us to share our stories in different ways. For centuries, telling stories has been a very powerful way to connect with people, and now, technology has made this art form even more popular and accessible.